Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Casino Capitale

Sky City's keen on a casino in Wellington. So am I. If it's good enough for Hamilton, it's good enough for Welly. However, I am not keen on Sky City having a bar of it.

Back in the 90s, Casinos Austria sank something like $10 million into a Wellington casino proposal. Possible sites included the old Odlins building on the waterfront (a shattered shell of a building at the time) and the Old BNZ Centre on Lambton and Willis. Then Ginger Wine enthusiast Phillida Bunkle comes along and blanket banned the whole thing.

If any casino was to open in Wellington, it would only be polite to give Casinos Austria first dibs. It would also be good to have some competition in NZ apart from the near monopolistic Sky City chain. The cultural and diplomatic centre of NZ would not welcome the glitzy barn of excess that Sky City inherited from Harrahs. Something upmarket, styley and discreet is what we're looking for. Like the place in that Clive Owen movie.

So that means a severe curb on pokie machines. I can't recall what the current ratio of table games to pokie machines is in the Gambling Act, but it's a generous allocation. Screw that down tight for Wellington. No more than 2 pokies for every table game. The focus is on human interaction. Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, etc. Many pubs already offer Texas Hold 'Em nights. Consider this an extension on that theme.

Such a venue would also provide a respite for older drinkers, seeing as a gambling licence is the only way to discriminate against teenagers with its rigorously enforced R20 status. Between that and a dress code, such a casino could well add to the variety of entertainments available in Wellington.

UPDATE: The perfect venue, Remiro Bresolin's old Il Casino!